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August 4, 2016

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Virtual is the buzz in newest gadgetry

THE recent Chinajoy show in Shanghai demonstrated how virtual reality is pushing the boundaries of its potential.

Exhibitors displayed headsets that can control drones with just a turn of the head, and gadgets allowing anyone to produce personal virtual reality content for less than US$300.

China’s virtual reality market is expected to grow to 55 billion yuan (US$8.5 billion) by 2020, which would mean a 36-fold expansion from 2014, according to Ricky Lin, a market analyst of iResearch.

Among the products displayed at Chinajoy was the Avegant Glyph headset called Headphone for the Eyes. It has 2 million “micro screens” for each eye, forming an IMAX-class screen in front of consumers. The device developed by the California-based company allows users more friendly control of drones.

Two pilots are usually necessary for professional aerial photography — one responsible for navigation and the other for shooting. With Glyph, a single pilot is able to monitor footage from the first angle and change the direction of the camera by head movements.

“The virtual reality screen is no more harmful than watching television,” said Richard Kerris, chief marketing officer of Avegant.

Creating virtual reality content is another vanguard in the industry.

Currently, that process requires carting around a lot of equipment. The professional Panorama Ball, for example, involves at least eight cameras and is beyond the affordability of most people.

Firms like Ricoh and Insta 360 aim to simplify the process with lighter, cheaper equipment, putting it within the reach of average consumers.

For example, one would be able to produce 360-degree virtual reality pictures with just two 180-degree fisheye lenses. The price of such devices is expected to be less than US$300, compared with a professional device like the Nokia OZO, which costs more than US$60,000.

“The virtual reality platform is not going to be a substitute for the traditional game market, but each platform generates its own fun,” HTC, the company that released HTC Vive in China, said in a statement issued during Chinajoy.


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